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Future models - Ariel - Atom - 500

Atom V8 to cost more than $200,000

Minimax: Ariel’s incredible Atom 500 is designed for minimal weight and maximum performance.

Ariel’s most extreme road-legal track car could boast record-breaking acceleration

9 Jun 2009

BRITISH sportscar specialist Ariel’s next model promises to be the fastest-accelerating production car in the world – and will cost more than three times as much as the iconic Atom 300.

Ariel’s website last week revealed that the V8-engined Atom 500 would cost “at least £100,000” ($A203,000) and be released “shortly”, but that production will be limited to just 25 units.

Power will come from a normally-aspirated 3.0-litre V8 engine developing 500 brake horsepower (373kW), enabling the Atom 500 to race from rest to 100km/h in about 2.5 seconds.

The four-valve V8 ‘atmo’ engine has a narrow 75-degree V angle to ensure it has the compact dimensions necessary to fit it behind the driver in an east-west configuration.

Ariel also claims that the engine has a unique camshaft drive arrangement to reduce engine size and weight.

The 500 started life as a one-off project with Russell Savory’s RS Developments in 2007 using the Savory-designed 2.4-litre supercharged five-valve alloy V8 that is now fitted to the recently-announced and conceptually-similar Caterham Seven Levante, which is priced at £115,000 ($A233,000).

However, Ariel’s new production V8 has been developed by American engine designer John Hartley and, like the Savory V8, is apparently based on a pair of Suzuki Hayabusa four-cylinder superbike engines.

120 center image Weighing in at just 500kg, the Atom 500 boasts a remarkable power-to-weight ratio of 1000bhp per tonne, which is about double that of the mighty Bugatti Veyron – the fastest car in the world.

The engine alone reportedly accounts for about $60,000 of the 500’s purchase price while the six-speed sequential gearbox provided by French racing transmission specialist Sadev (replacing the regular Atom’s six-speed Honda Type R manual) is said to cost $22,000.

Ariel said it is also investigating the possibility of providing an optional paddle shift arrangement for the Atom 500.

The racecar-like platform is the same as that used for the company’s regular Atom models, which are powered by the four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine from the Honda Civic Type R, but available in normally-aspirated 245bhp (183kW) and supercharged 300bhp (224kW) forms.

The supercharged Atom 300, which sells in the UK for £30,000 ($A60,900) and accelerates from 0-100km/h in about 2.8 seconds, was the subject of a now famous review by Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, in which his cheeks blew out like a dog’s while hanging out a car window.

As well as having unique suspension, brakes and aerodynamics, including carbon-fibre wings, the Atom 500 comes with adjustable traction control and launch control.

Ariel director Simon Saunders said the even more hardcore 500 project was an experimental departure from what the company normally produces.

“Our aim is to build the ultimate road legal track day car,” said Mr Saunders.

“Our motto has always been ‘Go fast – have fun’ and the Atom V8 is certainly going to do that.

“With a predicted 0-60mph (96km/h) time of under 2.5 seconds and 0-100mph of less than six seconds, the Atom 500 V8 promises to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, production car ever made.

“For a few customers, the Atom 500 will be the ultimate expression of lightweight performance and represents the outer limits of what is achievable in a road-registered car.

“We also use this sort of project to explore the possibilities of how we can improve our standard cars. By pushing the envelope to these sorts of extremes, we can further improve the breed.”

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